Ten Important Questions You Need to Ask to Qualify Your Sales Leads
Qualifying leads is one of the most difficult aspects of sales. It’s also one of the most important things a salesperson must do. If you don’t qualify leads, you will be forever chasing after prospects who are never going to buy from you. And, while you are wasting your time on the time wasters, you will be neglecting your real leads. Even so, you don’t want to qualify your leads too hard, or you might be passing over a genuine sale. So, it can be a difficult balance to strike. How do you filter out the quality leads from the rest? You start by asking some simple questions. Here are ten questions that you should be asking your leads to find out if they are real prospects.
- What is the Timeline for Your Purchase?
Of course, all these questions will need tailoring for the products you sell. Even so, the process of qualifying leads is the same for most products and services. One of the first things to ask any prospect is when do you want to buy? If they say that they plan on buying soon, then you know that this a prospect that you should be spending time on. If there is no set timescale for buying, this could be a sales lead that is going nowhere fast.
- What is Your Budget for This Purchase?
You must be tactful about finding out if someone has enough money to buy your product. Even so, you need to get this important question out of the way sooner rather than later. In B2B purchases this is a simple question of budget, so it is not a personal question. In consumer sales, though, a direct question of this nature may cause offense. It is important that any potential purchaser is aware of the full cost of your product. Get the price of your product or service on the table from day one. Even if it is only a ballpark price to qualify a sales lead in or out.
- What is Driving Your Purchase?
People will have a reason that they want to buy a product. There are many reasons why people and businesses buy products and services. Consumers may want the latest product or an upgrade to their existing products. Businesses may want to reduce costs or improve efficiency. Understanding why someone needs your product will help you two ways. It will help you identify how your product can solve your prospect’s challenges. It will allow you to assess how serious a prospect is about spending money to solve those challenges
- Why Are You Making This Purchase Now?
As every salesperson will know, some people are habitual browsers. These are the people that attend every trade show. They test-drive cars when they have no intention of buying one, and they browse stores to pass the time. We’ve all done it and there is nothing wrong with browsing. But for the salesperson, a browser is nothing but a waste of time. So, to cut to the chase, find out why a prospect needs to buy now. If there is no compelling need to buy, then you can either discount that lead or give it a low priority.
- Who Will Be Involved in the Decision-Making Process?
There may be an entire team involved in the buying decision of a large business. If that is the case, then you will need to find out who the key decision-makers are. Businesses will sometimes send junior members of the team to gather information. These people will also often act as gatekeepers. They shield decision-makers from the salespeople until the latter stages of the process. It is important that you focus your sales efforts on the people who matter. If you can’t get past the gatekeeper, you may want to consider making the prospect less of a priority.
- Who Will be Using the Solution/Product?
The person buying the service or product may not be the person who will be using it. You need to be sure of who the end-user or users will be. This is because the end-users may have more influence over the decision than you realize. Understanding who the end-users will be will help you decide if your product is suitable for the prospect. If you can get to the end-users, they may also be able to influence the decision-makers for you.
- What Solutions Have You Tried in The Past?
Finding out what services or products a prospect has used in the past will tell you a lot about the quality of a lead. What they use now will tell you more about their budget, and their needs. Find out in what ways other products failed to meet the prospect’s needs in the past. That will tell you more about what your product will need to be able to do to meet the prospect’s requirements.
- What Would Be Deal-Breakers for You?
Get the potential deal-breakers out in the open and as soon as you can. And, don’t be afraid to walk away if you uncover one. There is no point at all in pursuing a deal if there is one obstacle that can’t be overcome. Be open and honest about your product and don’t try to fudge the facts. If you talk your way around a deal-breaker, your deception will come back and bite you after the sale.
- What Other Options Are You Looking At?
Finding out who your competition is a must on any sales deal. You need to know if you are in the same price range as your competitors. If your product is more expensive, make your prospect aware of this. You need to be sure that the prospect will be able to justify spending the extra money. If you know who your competitors are, you can also highlight the strengths of your offering. Avoid bad-mouthing competitors, though, because that can backfire. Running down your competitors can make you look petty and desperate for a sale.
- Who Will Sign the Deal?
Finally, find out who will be signing on the dotted line of the sales contract. Try to get that person involved in the sales process as soon as possible. A last-minute objection from the final decision maker could mean that you fall at the last hurdle.
Wasting time on unqualified leads is a common business problem. Even the most experienced salespeople find themselves chasing leads that go nowhere sometimes. It is not always a case of qualifying a lead in or out. It is more a case of prioritizing leads so that you spend your time on the leads that you are most likely to close. The only way to do that is to ask the questions. If you don’t, you will find yourself wasting a lot of time.